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Lurcat’s Tapestry Revival, part one

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Tapestry Weaving | Leave a comment

Last fall I visited the textile exhibit Interwoven Globe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and was thrilled to see some incredible textiles up close.  I may have crossed the security line once – triggering an alarm, eek. It’s just that some of the tapestries were so finely woven that I had to get close and squint to see the warp grooves.  I attended the exhibition with a friend, to whom I gave a very rusty run-down of the history of tapestry designing as I remembered it from my studies at Capilano University.  When we got home that day I put my son to sleep and proceeded to plunk down on the couch to sink my eyes into my beautiful new fabric-covered catalogue/book of essays from the exhibition.  Sweet textile dreams ensued, as did my inspiration for this post.  So, I went back to my old textbooks to fill the gaps of the timeline I was piecing together and thought I’d share it here.

From the Interwoven Globe catalog, one of the tapestries I saw at the exhibition titled, ‘The Toilet of the Princess’, woven between 1690-1795 and measures 10′ X 12’10″

From the Interwoven Globe catalog, one of the tapestries I saw at the exhibition titled, ‘The Toilet of the Princess’, woven between 1690-1795 and measures 10′ X 12’10″

Tapestry is one of those textile techniques that I often find myself daydreaming about.  I have a deep respect for it, not only as an artistic medium, but also as a historical touchstone in art, particularly in relation to painting. I find the relationship between these two media fascinating since, in the contemporary fine art world, painting is generally thought of as having higher prestige than anything textile based.  Yet, during the renaissance painters were commissioned to create paintings solely as tapestry designs, and earlier copies, for people who wanted a memory of frescos which were located on the walls of buildings that they no longer spent time in.  Interestingly, it was commissions for tapestry designs by these kinds of artists (those who were painters, not tapestry designers) that lead to the loss of traditional tapestry weaving techniques.

In the mid 20th century there was a small group of tapestry historians who fervently addressed the importance of traditional design in tapestry, among them was French designer and weaver, Jean Lurcat.  In order to fully appreciate and understand the works and teachings of Lurcat, one must view them in the context of the history of true tapestry – particularly in regards to the decline of it’s existence during the rise of the Renaissance. The Renaissance was a period in which tapestry was somewhat re-invented, whereby traditional techniques were misplaced through the process of likening tapestry to paintings.  Lurcat is largely responsible for tapestry’s revival when he redefined the importance of designing tapestry in a way that embraced the integrity of authentic tapestry from the middle ages; this would inspire artists like Picasso to acquire the skills to properly design tapestry cartoons.

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Detail of the fifth tapestry of the Unicorn Tapestries, The Handmaiden. This detail illustrates traditional hatching in the leaves, bark and fabric and in the skin of the handmaiden herself (1495-1500)

It was in the beginning of the 14th century that tapestry was first recorded as being practiced.  By this time the technique had been mastered – offering no reference as to when it was first put into practice.  What we do know is that during the rise of the Renaissance in the early 16th century, the art of tapestry was alienated by a demand for the medium to emulate easel paintings.  This led to traditional color blending techniques, like hasseur and hatching, to fall to the wayside, forcing tapestry to experience an identity crisis of sorts.  Techniques like shape-building dominated this new presence, creating an aesthetic dissimilar to that of traditional tapestry in that it achieved shading and implied dimension by building shapes – as opposed to blending shapes and color with the aforementioned techniques.  In essence this created a new art form, a derivative of tapestry.


This post is part one of a three-part essay.  Come back next week for part two where we delve a bit deeper into the history of tapestry and learn how Jean Lurcat comes to feel so passionate about reviving it’s authenticity.

Also, when this series is done I will offer it as one downloadable essay with citations and footnotes!

Janna Maria Vallee

Help Me Decide

Posted on by Christina Neit / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Being the super indecisive person that I am, and I blame my Zodiac sign of Libra for that, I need help and I am reaching out to all of you :)

I can’t give you all the details, but I have a (what I believe to be) fantastic project for this awesome Mirrix Experience. It is going to be a bit of a large project, but when you see what I am doing, you will totally understand. I am SO excited to get this started I can’t even tell you! I may not get to it until June. I have a lot of other things on my plate and will be doing smaller Mirrix projects in the meantime. So, until I can order all the beads I am going to need for this, you have time to vote (2-4 weeks).

Below are three options I have laid out.  Please vote for your favorite one. Do not take into consideration that I will have to purchase more colors for one or the other, I don’t care about that. You can click on the images to enlarge them for a better looksie. Please vote by leaving a comment on this blog entry.

Option 1Option 2Option 3

Ex Libris Amulet

Posted on by Christina Neit / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

I decided to start my Mirrix work with a ‘pendant’ design. As I have been working it up, it has turned into an amulet in my mind. I wanted to do something different and have no idea how I came up with ‘Ex Libris’ as a potential design. I grew up surrounded by books and remember these gorgeous book plates in so many books. Their designs are very intricate. Wikipedia‘s definition of ‘Ex Libris’:

Ex Libris is a Latin phrase, meaning literally, “from the books”. It is often used to indicate ownership of a book, as in “from the books of…” or from the library of…


Ex Libris may also refer to: A bookplate, which is also sometimes known as an ex libris

Bookplates typically bear a name, motto, device, coat-of-arms, crest, badge, or any motif that relates to the owner of the book, or is requested by him from the artist or designer. The name of the owner usually follows an inscription such as “from the books of…” or “from the library of…”, or in Latin, ex libris…. Bookplates are important evidence for the provenance of books.



I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit something super intricate on a 3″ x 4″ grid. So after thinking hard, I came up with an idea. I only have 20 rows of 58 done right now. I did a basic checkerboard edge and it has a crow/raven on it, my Native Zodiac Totem. You can see the graph partially behind what work I have done so far. Yes, I took the word chart backwards, so it is getting worked up backwards :) I did it in soft colors to keep some authenticity.  If I have enough room underneath this piece on the loom, I am going to do up a second piece. I hate to waste too much thread. then I will take them both off at the same time. See you soon with more work and more photos!


Weaving with My New Czech Beads

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Bead Weaving, Bead/Fiber Combination | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I was suddenly struck by the thought of weaving beads that aren’t round and have more than on hole.  I waited patiently for my stash of Czech Beads to arrive.  I wanted to discover whether or not I could successfully use oddly shaped beads and/or two hole beads on the loom.  My theory is you can weave pieces on a loom that look pieces that are done off loom.  Additionally, I have been experimenting with embellishing weavings that are still on the loom.  I find all this is kinder to my hands since the loom holds the tension, not my hands.


Here are some of the results (I will show you the stash later!)

This one was woven from Chzech-mate  flat two hole squares and duos (used for embellishing the sides).  The warp is hand-painted silk.  The finishing beads are porcelain and the button is a pewter leaf shape with a silk-covered O-ring for closure.


This one is way more complicated.  I used every two hole Czech bead I bought including these amazing daggers, the squares,  and rectangles, the duos,  triangle beads and disc beads.  I also threw in a few size 8/0 beads .  The warp is hand-painted silk and the finishing beads are porcelain.


The final piece is very simple:  Mainly Czech duos with some two hole rectangles. It wraps four times or can be worn as a necklace.


Now for some pictures of these great beads.  I’ll just show you a few although a great mix of these beads will be shortly available in the Mirrix Store.


















Now I will show you some in progress shots of the above three bracelets.  Let’s start with the square bead bracelet.  Each of those beads has two holes.  Pass your threaded needle through the bottom holes of each  bead.  Place behind and in between the warp threads.  Sew through the holes in the front of the warp.  Then push the  beads back slight so you can sew through the top holes in the back of the warp.  Lastly, sew through those holes in the front of the warp.  Continue attaching square beads until your piece is as long as you want.



I love the finishes off these beads.  Just so rich and varied.




Use the Czech duos to embellish the sides of this bracelet:







Embellish both sides while still on the loom.  I really love the finished piece.  So simple to do yet so elegant.




The next piece was an experiment in being just a tad wild.  I intended (and did) to use every new Czech bead in my stash including those amazing daggers with the exclusion of the square beads since they are too big to mix easily with the others.  I seem to have neglected to take photos in process. But this piece will be the subject of our next ebook so stay tuned!  The piece is three beads across.  Sometimes I stagger the rectangular beads and I always stagger the Duos because they fit together that way.  The daggers were just so much fun to add.  The triangles and discs added a nice touch as well.


The third piece is two bead wide and uses only the Czech duos and the rectangles.  It was fun and mindless to weave.





My last experiment was using soft flex.  The whole process was quite successful until I tried to finish it.  I made a bunch of mistakes so you don’t get to see the final product.  Next on my list is to weave another piece using the no warps to weave in kit and bronze colored soft flex wire.  I will be more careful with my finishing.  I had tried to put on end caps and broke a some beads.  I can do better than that!  It would have been really nice and the soft flex was wonderful to work with.


Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 – My First Go at the Loom, by Julia L. Hecht

Posted on by Julia Hecht / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | 1 Comment
Mirrix Big Sister Loom Arrives at Poppyfield Bead Company

Mirrix Big Sister Loom Arrives at Poppyfield Bead Company

You can see how happy I am to receive my loom.  I am pictured here with the unopened box,  inside my bead shop, the Poppyfield Bead Company, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  That evening I took it home, and got it set up. I had a little trouble initially, but with the excellent customer service from Elena, at Mirrix, it was smooth going and I was weaving that same evening. I watched the Mirrix video on youtube for how to warp the loom for bead weaving.  It was super simple, even for someone like me, absolutely clueless about looms. Well, I should say…I WAS clueless.  While I am still a brand NEWBIE, I am definitely making progress, bead by bead, weft by weft.

I didn’t have any D thread available at my home, and I love S-Lon macrame cord, so I decided to warp with that. I realized it would show, but I have ideas about incorporating the warp thread into the design.  So I gave it a try.   I chose a gorgeous mix of size 11 Delica cylinder beads:  A matte metallic iris and a silver lined turquoise. They looked lovely in their little piles on the bead mat, and even mixed together.   I started with just random weaving, and then developed a pattern.    I was a little surprised with the outcome.  As you can see from the photo, the pattern is  barely discernible and the beads don’t mix well.  Not at all what I’d call “nice” or even “successful”.  So, I just loosened the tension using the wing nuts and rotated the warp threads, re-tightened and started weaving on the same warp with different beads.


My First Try

My First Try


My second try was a lot better. The same pattern shows up well, and I like the natural colored warp cords showing through.  I didn’t plan the length well, though.  And so it is just a little sampler right now.  My next plan is to weave an entire bracelet with those beads and try my hand at one of the finishing techniques.


2nd Try - Same Warp, Same Pattern, Different Beads

2nd Try – Same Warp, Same Pattern, Different Beads



Off the loom sitting on some ultra suede.  I'll try finishing on the next one.

Off the loom sitting on some ultra suede. I’ll try finishing on the next one.

Stay tuned, and follow along with my on my Mirrix Loom Journey.

- Julia L. Hecht



Getting started on my first Mirrix loom

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last week I was quick to warp up and put the heddles on, but then I couldn’t decide what to weave!  I know it sounds crazy to warp up without knowing what I’d weave, but I really wanted to see what this beautiful new textile tool was all about (btw, with the Mirrix tutorials warping up and heddling was a breeze).  Also, I only had so much linen warp in my stash, so I thought I’d start by seeing how wide a piece I could make with it.  I also knew that I’d be doubling up on fingering weight yarn so I chose to use the 12 dent spring.  In hindsight I think could have gone with 10 dent, but so far so good.  I thought of weaving a few bracelets as sample starter projects, and even began weaving, but it wasn’t giving me that weaving adrenaline that I so love, so I put it on hold and thought about it for a few days.  I also went into my sample books and boxes for inspiration and found these old sample sculptures.


left: pulled warp woven sculpture sample with hand-dyed yarns. right: natural dyes on knitted piece and natural prints on silk.

That’s when the lightbulb went off and I decided to weave something with the intention of adding a 3D sculptural aspect to it once it’s off the loom.  Now my mind is racing with ideas for future projects too, so I know I’m on the right track.  For inspiration I started this tapestry board on Pintrest, and I figured I may as well go full bore with this and dedicate 2014 to this awesome Mirrix adventure I’m on, so I called it Year of Taps (the nickname my art school colleagues and I gave tapestry).


getting started on my first Mirrix loom, the Big Sister.

I’m approaching this first weaving like a sample of sorts.  I want to get some practice with shape building and hatching, so I created a simple geometrical design and I’ll just blend colors in various ways inside each shape.  I know, it turned out looking somewhat figurative, although I’m not set on the orientation of the finished piece, so for all I know I’m weaving it upside down, haha.

Janna Maria Vallee


Happy Spring: Free Bead Pattern

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Projects, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

swirl bead pattern


Get our spring bead pattern, “Spring Swirls” FREE. Just fill out the form below:

Note: Do NOT close this page after you hit “send”. A green box will appear below the “send” button with a link to
the ebook.

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Do you own a Mirrix Loom?


Czech beads and softflex wire!

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Bead Weaving, Inspiration | Leave a comment

I just received some softflex wire samples to play with.  I have been meaning to jump into this activity for a long time but was recently inspired by the rest of the “toys” for which I am waiting.  I ordered a bunch of Czech beads:  duos, cute little flat squares with two holes, beads half that size with two holes, weird triangles . . . all with finishes to die for.  Or at least they looked that way on my monitor.

Oh . . . a blog without pictures.  Sorry.  The beads are on a FedEx truck somewhere and although the wire has arrived I think I will wait until the whole pile of fun stuff is here for me to explore.

My ideas:  Using the softflex wire with the no warps to weave in kit and then mixing the Czech beads with seed beads what kind of wonderful loomed piece can I create?  The idea is to explore the realm of off-loom looks with on-loom technique.  This is different from making a piece on the loom and then embellishing it off the loom (which is another thing I love and HINT HINT there will be blogs about that, not from me, in the future).  I want to bend the on-loom rules and get those beads going in a some fascinating and new directions.  I might even consider stringing some beads on the warp.  I am thinking that the wire will lend itself to be molded a bit and that I will be able to break out of the straight lines that is the tropism of loomed work.  In other words, the default is a grid and I am wondering how much we can break out of that grid working with a loom.

I also want to play with hand-painted silk and the new beads and maybe with the softflex wire as well.  The theme is to let the warp show.  And the goal is to create a piece that is beautiful and solid.  Or a bunch of pieces.

I’ll be back when that package arrives.

Social Market for a Mirrix 2014-Christina Neit Intro

Posted on by Christina Neit / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hi Everyone! I am Christina Neit (aka Good Quill Hunting and sometimes fondly referred to as ‘Quilly’) and a previous ‘Social Market for a Mirrix’ winner, 2010 and one of this year’s Designers of the Year for Beadwork magazine. I am so happy to have been selected to do this again!  I had such a great time learning the ‘Big Sister’ loom last time.  This time I opted for “Little Guy’ and it is just as incredible, only slightly smaller.


I have some new ideas I would like to try out this time around. I may make another piece over that I made last time and really loved (and sold right after I made it) and I have a piece (split loom necklace) I started many years ago on an old loom I had before the Mirrix loom. In moving from Maine to Colorado almost 4 years ago, the bottom threads on the loom were cut, so as a result, I have to start it completely over, which is fine because now I can put it on the Mirrix, I even have all the beads and the pattern has not been lost :) So those are some starting points until I get in my grove again.

This one I did last time that I would love to make another one of.

This one I did last time that I would love to make another one of.

You all may remember this one.

You all may remember this one.

I have some old videos from last time on YouTube and that is where you will find all the new ones I am going to be doing. Hopefully much better than the last ones I did! LOL I am also considering doing a Google Hangout or a Hangout ‘On Air’, we shall see and I will most certainly let you know in advance.

Where else can you find me? Facebook/Facebook Biz/Twitter/LinkedIn/DotCom

I hope I am able to inspire you and bring you new ideas. Cheers to Claudia and Elena for having the most awesome loom there is!

Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 – Julia’s Introduction

Posted on by Julia Hecht / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Greetings Weavers!  I am thrilled to be participating in this weaving adventure and I hope you’ll enjoy following my Mirrix Loom Journey.  As Elena pointed out in an earlier post about the participants, beadwork and creating beauty is my touchstone for self-healing. I had a career in medicine as a pediatrician.  Although I loved this work, my need for a healthier lifestyle for myself led to me leave my medical career.   I eventually found my way to a bead store that was closing.  I scooped it up and made it my own.  Since 2011, I have been serving the beading community at my shop, the Poppyfield Bead Company, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I am originally from New York City and the surrounding area. I began beading in 2002, while I was on maternity leave.  I suffered a health crisis, and during that time I discovered that beadwork was helping me to heal my spirit.  Since then, I have learned all the off loom weaving techniques. I am mostly self-taught, but I’ve also benefitted from the occasional class with amazing bead artists, such as Laura McCabe, Lisa Niven Kelly, and Margo Field. Honestly, I had shied away from the loom after one negative experience struggling with an inexpensive ‘starter’ loom.  So, I am looking forward to seeing what’s possible for me with a Mirrix.  I will be using the Big Sister Loom…and you can check in for my next post to see how that goes.

Here are some samples of my published bead work from Lark Publishing’s 500 Judaica, and Bead and Button Magazine.

Magic Carpet Bracelet (Diamond Odyssey in B&B)

Magic Carpet Bracelet (Diamond Odyssey in B&B)

Eden's Delight Prayer Vessel

Eden’s Delight Prayer Vessel

Light of the Soul Necklace

Light of the Soul Necklace

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